In my last post I presented 5 ways that a modern, optimized website can help your manufacturing company make more money. In this post I’m going to focus on how digital marketing — specifically SEO — can do the same.
Why should you care about SEO?
SEO or search engine optimization is the process of making your online content easily readable by Google. Let me explain. Google is constantly sending its virtual “robots” around the web to read websites and index them. When someone searches for a term in Google, the search engine goes through its index to find the web page that it determines will offer the searcher the best information. Google will then present the searcher with a list of webpages (search results) in order of relevance.
Research shows that the number one result will usually get over 20% of all the clickthroughs, with the number 2 and 3 results each getting around 13%. The clickthrough rates begin to drop from there until the end of the first page of search results. Clickthrough rates on page 2 are minimal. That means that if you can get into the top 3 positions on Google’s results page, you’ve got a pretty good change of driving interested prospects to your website.
How do you rank in Google search results?
Google takes several factors into consideration when ranking a website in its search results.
Content Quality and Relevance
Google’s objective is to provide searches with the most useful and accurate search results. Therefore, the quality and relevance of your content is going to be the most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm (although the algorithm is secret, so nobody really knows for sure). In the old days you could “fool” Google by creating poorly written content stuffed with keywords. That doesn’t work anymore.
Google continues to improve its algorithm to be able to differentiate between useful content and garbage, and it’s gotten pretty darn good at it. So by simply writing great content, you’ve got a good shot at catching Google’s attention and getting ranked. Of course, your competitors might very well be doing the same thing, which makes the battle for appearing on Google’s first page of results challenging, to put it mildly.
Now that you’ve create quality content, you need to make it easy for google to read and understand.
As google’s robots read through a page they look for certain coding tags that help identify the main idea and purpose of the text. The main tag that the robots look for is called the title tag, which should contain the central keyword phrase that the page is targeting. For example, the title tag should not consist solely of the company name, since potential customers are probably not searching for your name. Determining the proper keywords to utilize in the tag and content requires keyword research.
There are also header tags (h1 h2 h3) which are used to organize the page and help google determine the meaning and the importance of the text following it. Since google cannot actually read images, each image needs to be tagged with a relevant description (alt tag).
Speed and Responsiveness
As part of its mission to provide users with the best service, Google also prefers showing searchers web pages that load quickly and are mobile compatible (responsive). The speed of your website is based on many different factors including:
- Your hosting company
- The code on your website
- The images on your website
- The number of plugins and scripts you’re employing
A good free tool to check the speed and responsiveness of your website is Google’s Pagespeed Insights, which will indicate what is slowing down your site and give you suggestions on how to fix it.
One of the primary ways Google determines the relevance of a page of content is by looking at other sites that link to that page. The more authoritative the website that is linking to your page is, the more weight google will give to the content on your page. For example, if your page is linked to by an article in the NYTimes, then that link is most probably going to give your page a big boost since it is coming from a very authoritative site, which makes Google feel more comfortable showing it to their users.
Getting links from authoritative sites is not easy. But at the very least, your website should have links to it coming from a variety of authoritative directories and social media platforms. Most importantly, you should be sure to create a Google Business Page.
The primary way to get links from other websites (other than paying for them, which is prohibited by Google) is by creating high quality and valuable content that other websites will organically link to.
While links are an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, the effect links will have in any specific page is directly related to the competition for the respective search term or keyword being targeted. If none of the other sites relating to that keyword contain authoritative links, then Google will likely base its ranking decision on other factors like the quality and relevance of the content, proper onpage SEO, speed and mobile responsiveness. Determining the importance of links in your specific case requires keyword research and competitive analysis.
The objective of investing in SEO is to get found by potential customers who are searching for your product in Google. The effectiveness of SEO for your particular business is going to depend on who your target customer is and the competitiveness of your industry.
If you are trying to reach customers in your local area, you’re going to want to focus on getting to the top of Google’s local search results. Here’s a screenshot of how Google’s local search results look for the search query “digital marketing agency” run from Teaneck, NJ.
While your ranking will be effected by the number of competitors and their own SEO efforts, your chances of getting to the top of your local results are pretty good if you cover the SEO elements covered in this post.
If you are trying to reach an audience beyond your local region, your SEO fortunes are going to be much more tied to your competition and the keywords you are targeting. For example, if you are competing against Home Depot, Lowes and WalMart and you’re targeting the keyword “shovel”, you’re probably not going to have much luck getting into the top search result slots. But if you’re targeting a narrower niche, like “metal snow shovels in NJ”, and you’re willing to invest in your SEO, you can potentially make it to the top.
So now that you’ve got some idea of what SEO is and how to apply it to your business, the question you’ve got to ask is whether it’s worthwhile investing in it and how much should that investment be?
The answer to that depends on how much a new customer is worth to you. Then compare that number to the SEO investment. You do the math.
Now that I’ve briefly covered SEO, I’m going to move on to PPC (pay per click) advertising.